Monday, April 26

Buffalo Chicken Calzone with Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce

I was ironing DH's work clothes one morning and I had the Food Network on...and this recipe came on and I thought, gosh, THAT sounds good.  So this recipe is inspired by that.  I changed it up a little after reading the recipe and reading the reviews of it.  A lot of the reviews came back not so good, but I knew it was a good mix of flavors and recipes nonetheless, so I went with it.

First, I made my standard bread recipe in the bread maker.  The original calls for a tube of refrigerated dough, but this is so much better...and better for you--no preservatives!

Heat oven to 400 degrees. 

For the calzone filling:
2 cups diced/shredded cooked chicken (the org. called for raw chicken--that concerned me)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4-1/3 cup cayenne pepper sauce, such as Frank's (to taste, depending on how hot you like it)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Mix together cooked chicken, shredded cheese, and pepper sauce.  Roll out dough on flat surface and cut into 4-5 inch rounds.  Place 1-2 tablespoons filling on one half of each round and seal closed pressing dough together.  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Make sure to slice a hole in the calzones to let steam escape.  Place on baking sheet/pizza stone and bake for 15-20 minutes.

For the Dip:

1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup blue cheese
2 Tbsp chives, chopped

Mix sour cream and blue cheese together, top with chives and serve along side calzones.  These make a great appetizer, but you can serve with a green salad and they make a great dinner too!

This recipe is linked to:

Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday
Blessed With Grace Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap 

Sunday, April 25

Menu Plan Monday

It seems like something is always getting moved forward from one week to the next...I guess that's just life!  :) For this week,

Sunday-Spaghetti with green beans

Monday-Baked Potato Bar with chili, sour cream, cheese, broccoli, cheese

Tuesday-Taco Salad

Wednesday-Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans


Friday-Pulled Pork Fajitas (leftovers from a couple weeks back)


For other great menu ideas, visit here

Thursday, April 22

Now I Just Need to Learn How to Use It

For the last year and a half, my parents have very graciously loaned us their digital SLR camera.  DH and I have a decent digital point and shoot camera that we bought shortly before the Peanut arrived, however there is always that stinking delay from the time you press the button to take the picture to the time the image is actually captured.

Doesn't work too well with a little one. 

We have been saving to purchase a digital SLR of our own.  By saving, I mean asking for Costco Cash (gift cards) when asked what we would like for birthdays, Christmas, etc.  Well, we are almost there.  I am very excited.  Not just to get our own camera, but I found out some very exciting news just last week.  But let me back up.

For college graduation (many moons ago), my parents gave me a very nice SLR film camera with several lenses.  I also used some of my graduation money at the time to purchase a separate flash for the camera.  Needless to say, it's been collecting dust for the last several years, as digital is now the way of photography.  The SLR they purchased for me was a Nikon.  I firmly believe that once a Nikon user always a Nikon user.  In the same respect, once a Canon user, always a Canon user.  You go how you start.  I don't know much about Nikons, or Canons for that matter, but really any nice camera will take fabulous pictures with a little bit of practice.

I'll get off my soapbox now.

So I had these lenses and flash sitting there and we had tried using them on the digital SLR probably over a year ago and they didn't work.  Sad, huh?  All that money wasted. 

Fast forward a year, and I was dinking around on the Costco website, looking at the camera we plan to purchase here shortly, and I was reading the reviews of what others thought about the camera we plan to purchase.  (Not that I was worried)  This gentleman left a novel of a review and he was in the same boat as we were.  He had purchased a Nikon SLR film camera nearly 30 years ago and had purchased many lenses along the way...and he didn't want to have to "upgrade" to new lenses with all the money he had invested over the years in film lenses.  He just happened to be reading a photography magazine on a flight and lo and behold--you can use the lenses and flashes from SLR film cameras on the new digital models (at least with Nikons, I can't speak for others).  The only catch is that you have to have the camera in full manual mode.  And true to what he said, I put my parents camera in manual mode and attached the flash and it works!  How cool is that?

So I have been playing around with the manual modes and using the flash attachment...the nice thing about the flash attachment is that it bounces the flash off the ceiling rather than flashing straight at the subject, which often times washes the person out and creates massive shadows behind the subject.

All that said, being an amateur, when using the flash attachment, it looks like we have no roof or that the heavens have opened up--as there is tons of "light" from above: 

Aren't those chubbys cute, though?

She is still lining up the animals for nigh,nigh.

It seems that for right now, the only good, non blurry pictures I will be able to get of the Peanut when not using a flash (at least indoors) are when she is sitting still.  So, like this:

But this one turned out decently and it was indoors with the speed flash:
Outdoor shots with manual settings seem to be the easiest:

Look at all those wrinkles...just keepin' it real.... 

This one is my favorite of the bunch (Daddy is blowing bubbles {bubbaws} and she is quite exited):

That's what I hear over and over from professionals and non-professionals alike, is that the key to really good photos is to take the camera out of auto I just have to dig deep and try and remember all that knowledge of high school photography.  Things like F stops and shutter speed and ISO.  But it could be fun, right? 

Tuesday, April 20

Works For Me Wednesday--Recipe Binder

I like the appearance of organization.  Appearance.  I truly have the Monica syndrome.

As long as my house looks neat, picked up, and everything is in it's place, I'm good.  But don't look behind my cabinet doors, in my drawers, or in my closet.  I am more of an out of site, out of mind kind of girl.

Shameful, I know.  Drives my poor husband nuts.  Every so often I walk in a room and he's organizing something that he just can't handle anymore.  And I will keep it that way for a while.  I do try.  Sometimes.

But every so often, even I can't handle it anymore.  Like my recipes...I print TONS of recipes from online sites.   And I would fold the sheet in half and shove it in a recipe box.  When it came time to use was a disaster.  Every time.  I went looking for it, couldn't find it, went online and reprinted it and the mess started all. over. again.

So I finally got smart.  I went and bought a three ring binder.  Genius, huh?  Best investment I ever made--well, that and the fentanyl shot.  I dug through my old college days school supplies and found several packs of dividers and my three hole punch and I started punching and organizing.  I even alphabetized.  I know.


Using a three ring binder for recipes printed from online works for me!  

Monday, April 19

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

The ladies fellowship from our church in Hometown did the Apples of Gold bible study, which I attended several years ago.  The whole study is based on Titus 2 where Paul encourages the older generations teaching the younger generations to lead godly lives.  Part of the study was a cooking portion and the older women taught the younger women of the group about cooking and opening your home to others.  Our study did not follow all of the recipes of the book, as our church paid for the ministry for all of those who attended, so a conscientious effort was made to keep costs down.  This was one of the recipes that was prepared for us--and I have made it again and again.  It's that good.

But really, do I share any recipes that are just plain terrible?

No--but that's just my opinion.  Of course, this does take a little extra time, but it is well worth it, and probably much more cost effective--and I can pronounce all the ingredients too.  And that's always nice.  :)

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, minced (about 1 cup)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar (I never include it and it still tastes great!)
1 16 oz can diced tomatoes (drained)
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 8 oz can Mexican style tomato sauce (a lot of times I don't have this, so I use a 14 1/2 oz. can of tomato sauce and add some canned chilies)

Heat oil in sauce pan over medium high heat until hot (not smoking), about 2 minutes.  Add onion and cook stirring occassionally until softened and beginning to brown (about 5 minutes).  Add garlic, chili powder, coriander, cumin, salt, and sugar.  Cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Stir to mix and then put in a food processor to puree. 

Pour a little of the sauce on the bottom of your baking dish before adding enchiladas.  Place enchiladas in dish and pour the rest of the sauce on top.  Top with cheese and heat through in oven. 


This recipe is linked to:

Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday
Blessed With Grace Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap 

Life As Mom Ultimate Recipe Swap 


Sunday, April 18

Menu Plan Monday

Last week went pretty well--just one roll over because I made such large amounts of everything that I made earlier last week.  Sooo, we've had a fair amount of leftovers to use up. For this week,

Sunday-Baked potato bar with all the fixins'

Monday-Pizza with homemade crust and sauce, green salad

Tuesday-Roast beef, twice baked potatoes, green beans

Wednesday-Mexican chicken, sonoran rice, green salad

Thursday-Ground beef casserole, green beans


Saturday-Homemade macaroni and cheese with ham

For other great menus, visit here.

Thursday, April 15

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

Our little Peanut is growing right before our very eyes.  Before you think duh--what I mean is she is observing every. little. thing we do.

Of course parents are always cautious of what they say around little ones.  Well, at least other, good parents are.  I said "oh, c*r*a*p" several weeks ago--and I promise, it was "oh c*r*a*p"--not that this justified, but it's a lot milder than other exclaims in frustration.   Anyhow, she said it right after I did.   It was more like "cap" than "c*r*a*p." 

Nice, Jackie.  Way to be mom of the year!

All that said, not only do they absorb everything you say, but they watch everything you do.  On Monday I was getting ready to take Peanut to the park.  I got her shoes and coat on and grabbed my keys and put them in my pocket, put my purse over my wrist (I can't put it over my shoulder when I carry her because as I lean down, the purse falls forward off my shoulder and it drives me nuts...but anyhow) and I bent down to pick her up.  She runs towards her toy basket and grabs her little cloth nativity box that is a perfect "purse" size for her and puts it over her wrist and looks up at me and says "Go!"  She had her purse and was ready to go too.

Aw, shucks.  I just stood there and stared--and then smiled and grabbed my camera like any good blogger would.  My goodness, I thought, she does watch everything I do. 

She thought Daddy's shoes were a great deal of fun the other night...

She has also taken to lining up her stuffed animals and putting them to bed.  And if she is so inclined, she lays down with them and looks up at me and says "Nigh, nigh."

And in other news, she has figured out how to take off her clothes--at least pants with elastic waist bands.  Play time often looks like this~

I am sure every parent on the planet says this, but she really, constantly, amazes me.

Tuesday, April 13

I am spoiled

Look what DH is doing for me...on his day off no less.  I should get out there and help, but alas, someone has to watch the Peanut...

Thank you, Sweetie.

Monday, April 12

Asian Chicken Salad with Homemade Asian Dressing

I made this for dinner several weeks ago and it was just plain yum!  The salad dressing recipe is yet another from the cooking classes that my mom used to attend and it is simply, aaaa-mazing. 

Asian Dressing

3/4 c granulated sugar
2/3 c rice vinegar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (I used sea salt, it was fine)
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp hoisin sauce (can find in the Asian food section of your supermarket, it also referred to as plum sauce)
1 1/2 tsp course ground pepper
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 1/2 c peanut or vegetable oil

In food processor using metal blade, drop whole garlic through feed tube with machine running.  Add all ingredients except oil, pulse to blend.  With machine running, slowly pour oil through feed tube until emulsified into dressing.  Store in refrigerator up to one month.   Remove from refrigerator prior to use; whisk or stir before serving.   Makes about 2 cups.


Romaine lettuce
Green onions
Cubed, cooked chicken
Mandarin oranges
Chinese noodles
Toasted, slivered almonds

Toss and serve with dressing on the side.  Enjoy!

This recipe is linked to:

Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday
Blessed With Grace Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap  

Life As Mom Ultimate Recipe Swap

Sunday, April 11

Menu Plan Monday

Gosh, I am so bad, I didn't even get up my plan last week...and I did have one.  Really.  Just with my parents surprise visit and then wanting to get up my Easter recap post, it would have been Tuesday and that's not really fitting for Menu Plan Monday, right?  We had several dishes last week that included the leftover ham and I still have enough ham leftover for probably about five more meals, so that's in the freezer and will come out over the next few weeks.  For this week,

Sunday-Buffalo Chicken Calzone with Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce (I am kinda making my own take on this recipe), Green Salad

Monday-Red Beans & Rice with Ground Beef, Green Beans

Tuesday-Pulled Pork Fajitas, Spanish Rice

Wednesday-Enchiladas with homemade sauce, Black Beans

Thursday-Lentil Soup w/ ham, Cornbread


Saturday-Pizza with homemade crust and sauce, Green Salad

For other great menus, visit the Organizing Junkie.  

Thursday, April 8

Challah Bread

I forgot to share this from this weekend...I made this for Easter dinner.  It was so sweet and fluffy.  It reminds me a lot of Hawaiian bread.   I let it rise a little too long (my bad) as we made a trip to the park.  With the bread maker, it made it super easy, which I just love.  And it made great french toast the next morning.  Yum!

Wednesday, April 7

Easter Cookies

I love those cookies you see in magazines...specifically Martha's.  I first saw this type of cookie decoration using the flooding technique years ago...probably close to like 10 years ago.  I always said one day I would try this.  Then probably a year ago, I came across Bridget's blog...and her cookies further inspired me.  (In fact, I think her's are better than Martha's...I'm just sayin'.)

But you know, with a little munchkin running around, I never found the time.

With my Mom here this weekend, and all her elaborate activities planned, we finally got the chance.  My Mom had planned on doing the standard butter cream frosting and I suggested doing the flooding.  She said, sure, we could try that.  And try we did. 

While we are no professionals and we have a long way to go to get to the "Bridget" standard (find her instructions here for icing recipes and techniques), I think the cookies turned out pretty good for our first try.  I mean, you have to walk before you can run, right?

A few things we learned during our first attempt...

  • when doing your edges...starting and stopping is BAD.  Try to make one continuous line.
  • Bridget suggests adding a little corn syrup to the icing for a more glossy look...we didn't do this, and the icing dried really flat.  (These pictures were taken before they dried.)  I would strongly suggest using the corn syrup.
  • The icing takes a long time to harden up...I don't know why this is, but it took over 24 hours. So be patient. 

We plan to make Elmo cookies for the Peanut for her birthday at the end of this summer...we'll have to get in lots of practice before then.  But how cute do Elmo cookies sound?  :) 

Tuesday, April 6

Easter Weekend

Whew!  My Mom and Dad planned a surprise visit up here this last weekend.  I got a surprise knock at the door on Friday afternoon--I was sooo excited!  It was a wonderful jam-packed weekend with many activities planned by my Mom.  My husband always says that my Mom never does anything half way.  And this weekend did not disappoint.  I am still processing it all.

It was a weekend I'll never forget.  And I've the got the pictures to prove it. Which is why this post is a little late.

When they first arrived, Grandma surprised Peanut with a slew of new books and a new toy--and so many new outfits it would put Paris Hilton to shame. In addition, Peanut also got some new swimsuits--complete with matching cover-ups and water socks.  And my Mom knows me so well, all swimsuits were entirely appropriate for an 18 month old--explain to me why a child would need big gaping holes in their suit?  I mean, call me a prude, but I think teaching a certain level of modesty starts a young age.  If you let a little girl wear something like that at 18 months, what will they want to wear when it really matters?  I just don't find it necessary to sexualize our little girls.  Anyways--all that to say, the suits were darling and entirely appropriate for a little girl. 

In addition to the new clothes and toys and books, also in Grandma's sleigh Suburban were egg dying kits, flowers to plant with Peanut and supplies to decorate cookies.  And some goodies for me and DH as well.

We started bright and early Saturday morning boiling eggs and making the customary trip to Costco when they come to town.  We prepared some of the food for Sunday's meal and started the egg dying process.  

Of course I had no newspapers so my ever creative mom determined we should lie down some plastic wrap on the table with some old rags on top, so we didn't damage my special table

Most of these projects were done by me and my mom, bringing in the Peanut for a photo op at the end.  I
think she will be more able to participate in these activities next year.

After the eggs, we started on the cookies.  We made sugar cookies and cut out shapes of daisies, chicks, bunnies and miniature cookies that were just right for Peanut. 

She stole only a few bites of the dough.  Once she figured that out, it would have been handfuls as opposed to nibbles, so she was whisked away by Grandpa. 

We decorated the cookies using the flooding technique.  That will be covered in a whole. other. post.

Peanut also had lots of time to snuggle with her Skipper. 

Grandma brought some flowers to plant and Peanut did participate in this more than the other activities.  Some potting soil was spilled in the process and Peanut did her best to try and pick it up.

I even let the Peanut get some dirt on her hands.  I tried not to hyperventilate

She was entirely pleased with herself when she figured out how to help Grandma water the plants.

Unfortunately we didn't make it to church.  Since moving here we haven't found a church--well, truth be told, we haven't even started looking.  DH works every Sunday and I am paranoid about putting Peanut in the nursery and I don't think it's right to have her in church with us distracting everyone around us.  So...that's where we are at.   On Sunday morning, DH did read aloud to us the account of Jesus' last days and His resurrection from the book of Luke.  It was a good reminder to us all, even if we weren't hearing it in a church setting. 

That afternoon we made a trip to the park, so we could show my Mom and Dad Peanut's stomping grounds.  Peanut sure does love getting to get out and run around.  Especially when Grandma and Grandpa are there.

Grandpa played a trick on Peanut, which she thought was pretty funny.


Unfortunately, Peanut couldn't sit still for photos with Grandpa and Grandma.

When we got home, Grandma hid some eggs and Peanut had her own Easter egg hunt.  She picked up on the looking for eggs and depositing coins in her bank very quickly.  And she was quite pleased with herself once again.

We ate dinner and then we watched The Blind Side later that evening.   (Good movie, by the way, and I don't even like football.) And then enjoyed some amazing dessert.

Peanut didn't sleep too well with Grandma and Grandpa here (I think it's because she knows they are here).  After my Mom and Dad went home, we took a three hour nap together yesterday afternoon--we were both tired.  She then slept for a solid nine hours last night.

As always it was a wonderful time, although too fast.  We sure do miss them something terrible.


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